The Public Health Connection with Climate Change

The spark that ignited the idea of STAY COOL for GRANDKIDS was the birth of David and Peg Engel’s first grandchild, Violet, in 2012. That is why our mission has always been to mend our generation’s environmental legacy and speak for those who will be most impacted by climate change threats to human health, safety, and security. Climate change, together with other natural and human-made health stressors, influences human health and disease in numerous ways. Some existing health threats will intensify, and new health threats will emerge. Not everyone is equally at risk. Important considerations include age, economic resources, and location.

But climate change isn’t only about the future; children are at particularly high risk, right now. The effects of climate change on a child’s health include:

  1. Physical and psychological stress and disruption from weather disasters (e.g. hurricanes, flooding, wildfires)
  2. Increased heat stress
  3. Decreased air quality from ozone pollution and, in some areas, air pollution associated with wildfires
  4. Altered vector-borne disease patterns
  5. Food, water, and nutrient insecurity 

Pediatricians are already seeing the effects of climate change in their patients. With shorter winters, outdoor allergy seasons are longer and warmer. This worsens allergies and increases the chances of asthma symptoms. Ozone Action Days are becoming more frequent as emergency departments receive more asthma-related admissions each year. Ozone is produced from heat interacting with the exhaust from cars and trucks, and more hot days mean more ozone. When we talk about “climate refugees”—those people who cannot sustain life any longer in their place of origin—imagine the faces of all the children whose social foundations are threatened by community and global instability, mass migrations, and increased conflict. Given this knowledge, failure to take prompt, substantive action would be an act of injustice to all children.

In an August 13, 2019 article posted by Think, air pollution, especially one type that is worsening with global warming, can accelerate lung disease as quickly as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. The study published on August 13 in the journal JAMA by researchers at the University of Washington, Columbia University, and the University at Buffalo, doubles down on the link between air pollutants and lung disease. It also emphasizes the connection between the lung ailment emphysema and pollution from ground-level ozone, the main ingredient in smog (not to be confused with the stratospheric ozone layer). Chronic lower respiratory disease is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, and the third leading cause worldwide. While other air pollutants are largely decreasing nationwide, ozone is increasing — with severe public health ramifications. The 18-year study tracked more than 7,000 people of various ethnicities and races between 2000 and 2018 across six major metropolitan areas. Researchers found that if an individual’s exposure to ozone pollution increased slightly (by 3 parts per billion) that was “significantly associated” with an increased risk of emphysema over a decade — the equivalent of smoking one pack of cigarettes every day for 29 years.

Are we doing well in San Diego County? When considering ozone air pollution, the answer is surprisingly “No.”  The February 2017 Climate Change and Health Profile from the California Department of Public Health illustrates that each California county will experience the health impacts of climate change uniquely (see Table 1). San Diego County will face extreme heat and more air pollution associated with ozone and wildfires.



The CDC’s Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (BRACE) framework is a five-step process that allows health officials to develop strategies and programs to help communities prepare for the health effects of climate change (Figure 1). Part of this effort involves incorporating complex atmospheric data and both short and long-range climate projections into public health planning and response activities. Combining atmospheric data and projections with epidemiologic analysis allows health officials to more effectively anticipate, prepare for, and respond to a range of climate sensitive health impacts.

Five sequential steps comprise the BRACE framework:

Step 1: Anticipate Climate Impacts and Assessing Vulnerabilities
Identify the scope of climate impacts, associated potential health outcomes, and populations and locations vulnerable to these health impacts.

Step 2: Project the Disease Burden
Estimate or quantify the additional burden of health outcomes associated with climate change.

Step 3: Assess Public Health Interventions
Identify the most suitable health interventions for the identified health impacts of greatest concern.

Step 4: Develop and Implement a Climate and Health Adaptation Plan
Develop a written adaptation plan that is regularly updated. Disseminate and oversee implementation of the plan.

Step 5: Evaluate Impact and Improve Quality of Activities
Evaluate the process. Determine the value of information attained and activities undertaken.

More in-depth information about the BRACE framework can be found in the document titled Building Resilience against Climate Effects—A Novel Framework to Facilitate Climate Readiness in Public Health Agencies. An animated video describing the BRACE framework is also available.

Intergenerational equity is the heart of STAY COOL and we work to educate and convert those who put the well-being of current generations ahead of future generations. In November 2017, Judge Ann Aiken of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that climate change may pose an unconstitutional burden on younger generations. She said, “Exercising my ‘reasoned judgment,’ I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.”

What can you do? Speak out against those policies and programs that would increase the number of vehicles on the road. Idling in traffic causes even more air pollution, and that is what happens when we expand development in areas that do not have public transit options. Write to you County Board of Supervisor and let them know that you are thinking about generations that come after us, not just those who are here now.  If you would like help with your comments, you are welcome to contact us at

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Science Corner – Carbon Budgets: One of the most important concepts you’re probably not familiar with

By John Atcheson

When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes a projection about how much time we have before hitting a target temperature increase, one of the most important assumptions they use is a “carbon budget”.  Carbon Tracker defines “carbon budget” as: The cumulative amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions permitted over a period of time to keep within a certain temperature threshold. 

Glossary of Terms and Definitions that appear in this article:
(Given in the order they appear)
Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC): The IPCC is an international organization of the United Nations whose objective is to provide governments at all levels with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies. IPCC reports are also a key input into international climate change negotiations. The IPCC data used to model and forecast climate is used at the local, state, national and international level.
Anthropogenic: Originating in human activity.
Carbon sinks and sources: For purposes of climate change, a carbon sink is something that removes carbon from the atmosphere, a carbon source is something that adds it.  Sources and sinks may be natural or anthropogenic.
Carbon sequestration: The act of a carbon sink removing carbon from the atmosphere. 
Albedo effect: A measure of the amount of solar radiation reflected from a receiving body.  It is important in climate studies because the polar ice caps work to lower the net amount of heat energy that is retained in the atmosphere, and as they darken or diminish, the Earth retains more heat. 

Understanding carbon budgets is critical if you want to understand the IPCC forecasts in their full context. So, OK, buckle up, this is going to get pretty wonky, but once you’re familiar with carbon budgets, you’ll be equipped to understand the sometimes troubling assumptions that are hidden in the IPCC reports as well as other forecasts. 

There are three factors that determine a carbon budget:

  • The cumulative amount of carbon released to date;
  • The sensitivity of the climate to carbon; and
  • The likelihood of the outcome.

Let’s look at each in turn.

The amount of carbon emitted to date can be computed, although there is some controversy over what year to use as a baseline, or even whether to use models to compute the pre-anthropogenic carbon level, instead of historical data. The IPCC typically uses 1850 to 1900 as the baseline, despite the fact that anthropogenic emissions of carbon have been increasing since the mid 1700’s.  

Climate sensitivity is a measure of how much warming a given amount of carbon will cause.  Estimates have varied over time as more data becomes available and as techniques for measuring it are improved and this can make a big difference in forecasts. In fact, in the latest IPCC report on 1.5 C of warming, changes in the assumptions about climate sensitivity extended our drop-dead date for action from three years of current emissions to about ten.  The justification for the change is that the IPCC found that cumulatively, more carbon had been emitted than previously estimated which means – because it took more carbon to cause the 1 C we’ve warmed already – the climate is not as sensitive to a given amount of carbon as we previously thought.  As we’ll discuss, this works only if the past is prologue.

The other factor – the likelihood of the outcome can also profoundly change the allowable carbon emissions and the time left to act under a given scenario.  For example, the IPCC’s forecasts are usually based on what they call a “likely” outcome, which is the amount of carbon emissions that 66 percent of their models say will allow us to stay at or under a given temperature threshold. So right off the bat, it’s important to know that the safety margin built into the IPCC forecasts is effectively a two out of three chance of meeting the specified target. As safety factors go, this margin shouldn’t inspire confidence.  Would you, for example, get on a plane or cross a bridge that had a one in three chance of failing? Makes you wonder why we’d consider it adequate for protecting our life support systems, doesn’t it?

Confused?  Let’s plug in some real numbers to show how it works.  

We’ll start with carbon sensitivity.

Before the IPCC adjusted their estimate of carbon sensitivity in the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 C, our carbon budget worked out to about 3 years’ worth of emissions left before we busted the 1.5 C limit.  Here’s the numbers, using the old assumption of carbon sensitivity. If we wanted to have a 66 percent probability of staying below 1.5°C, our total carbon budget would be 2,250 tonnes of carbon dioxide. By the end of 2018, we burned through all but 130 billion tonnes of that budget. Since we are emitting about 37 tonnes per year we would have blown through the budget by the end of 2021. 

But by adjusting the carbon sensitivity used in the IPCC’s 1.5 C Report, we increased the time it takes for a given amount of carbon to increase the temperature, which gave us ten more years of emissions, not three. As we noted earlier, this revision is valid only if the past were prologue.  But the data suggests it won’t be. This is true for two reasons.  First, carbon sinks are becoming compromised. Data suggests that soils, the ocean, marine biota, boreal forests, and rainforests – the major carbon sinks – are not taking up as much carbon as they once did, and this trend is likely to intensify.  Indeed, in many areas, as fires and insects attack trees, boreal forests are becoming sources of carbon, not sinks, and this could become true of the entire boreal forest – the single largest terrestrial sink, encircling the entire globe.  

Evidence for this slowdown in natural carbon sequestration is starting to pile up.  For example, from 2014 through 2017 human carbon emissions plateaued, but despite the slowdown in emissions, the atmospheric carbon concentration not only continued to increase, but it accelerated at a record-breaking pace.  (See Figure 1)

Figure 1: A Simplified Carbon Cycle

The other reason the past may not be prologue is that there’s evidence we’ve triggered some positive feedback loops that either 1) increase the amount of warming a given amount of carbon causes – for example, the reduced albedo of melting ice caps in the polar regions causes more heat to remain in the atmosphere– or 2) cause the release of carbon that has been sequestered in features like permafrost, methane clathrates, or peat bogs, often for centuries or longer.  

Some techniques for establishing carbon sensitivity attempt to capture the equilibrium change – that is, the change in temperature once feedbacks have played out – but our estimates of feedback effects are extremely uncertain, and historically, we’ve either ignored feedbacks, or grossly underestimated their magnitude. 

Now let’s look at how varying the probability of meeting a given threshold can affect the forecasts for time we have left.

Looking at an increase of 1.5 C, if we were to choose a more conservative level of risk management, such as a 90 percent or 100 percent likelihood of staying below 1.5 C, we would have had to start acting  more than a decade ago, since we exceeded the allowable emissions for those confidence levels in 2013.

Contrast this with a carbon budget based on a 66 percent probability of staying below 2°C, or about 2,900 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (GtCO2e). By the end of 2018, we would appear to have nearly 736 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide left, or about twenty years’ worth.

As we can see, the assumptions about atmospheric sensitivity, what constitutes an acceptable safety factor, and what temperature represents the target we should stay under can make the time we have left before exceeding our carbon budget vary from three years to about twenty.  And many of the assumptions the IPCC is using for their base case, expose us to relatively higher risks than more realistic or prudent assumptions would.  

It is tempting to choose values that give us hope, and it seems like that tendency has influenced many of our assumptions about carbon budgets.  But as Kevin Andersen of the Tyndall Center put it: “Scientists must make their assumptions transparent and defensible, however politically uncomfortable the conclusions.”  

History tells us people are capable of extraordinary efforts when they are faced with extraordinary challenges.  But there are no examples of humans rising to meet a challenge they were unaware of, or which was understated.   

The thing is, we have the tools to meet the climate challenge.  Renewable energy and clean energy storage are now cheaper than fossil fuels in energy generation, and they soon will be for transportation. Agricultural practices can turn that sector from a source of carbon emissions to a sink, absorbing atmospheric carbon.  But if we are to harness these solutions, we must understand the urgency of the challenge we face, and communicate that urgency to our elected officials at all levels.

Carbon budgets – get to know them. The viability of the planet’s life support systems – and the kind of future we leave our children and our children’s children depends upon us understanding how the budgets are established and insisting that scientists make prudent – not politically convenient – assumptions when we use them. 

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From Climate Change Communication: Do younger generations care more about global warming?

When considering the way people talk about and experience the current state of our climate, we thought it was very interesting to see this poll that highlights the generational differences. You might want to consider this as you have a conversation with someone younger or older than yourself. Dialogue leads to understanding, and understanding can lead to action. We need all the help we can get!…/do-younger-generat…/   

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ReWild: why STAY COOL is getting involved

In June STAY COOL joined the “ReWild Coalition,” a fledgling alliance of San Diego organizations supporting wetlands expansion on the north shore of Mission Bay.  The City of San Diego’s current planning for revitalization of the area presents a timely opportunity for redeveloping a shoreline with resilience to climate change in mind. Click here to read the letter we submitted in June, 2019.

Will our grandkids take their kids boating on Mission Bay?  Will they dare let them swim in it? Let’s advocate for a future where Rose Creek meets the Bay in an adaptable expanse of salt marsh, tidal channels, sand flats, mudflats, and eelgrass, nurturing sea life and birds, mitigating floods, and cleaning the water that enters the Bay.  Now is the time to do so.  

The Mission Bay Park Master Plan of 1994 anticipated expansion of the wetlands that currently cover about 40 acres on the northeast edge of the Bay, but planning for the area was delayed for decades with lawsuits over the mobile home park at De Anza Cove.  With vacating of the homes beginning in 2016, the City began work on the De Anza Cove Amendment to the Mission Bay Park Master Plan.

Meanwhile, the San Diego Audubon Society (SDAS) embarked on a wetlands restoration feasibility study with funding from the California State Coastal Conservancy and the US Fish & Wildlife Service.  “ReWild Mission Bay,” the feasibility study report issued in 2018, presents detailed historical and current data with projections of future habitat distribution under sea-level-rise scenarios, and three design alternatives for effective wetlands restoration – “Wild,” “Wilder”, and “Wildest” – for the City’s consideration in planning De Anza Revitalization.

This year, De Anza Revitalization became a project of focus for Citizens Coordinate for Century 3 (C-3).  C-3 is a San Diego organization that since 1961 has advocated for high standards in urban design, community planning, and access to public open space.  For this effort, their members are leading workshops to integrate SDAS’s “Wildest” wetlands alternative into designs for the full project area, which currently also provides for camping, boating, golf, tennis,  ball fields, and retail. Mission Bay leaseholds are an important source of revenue for the City.

This spring, operators of the Mission Bay RV Resort (adjacent to the old mobile home park) notified the City that they would not renew that lease, and the City Council accepted a proposal from the RV resort owners to operate the site and cleanup the abandoned mobile homes in return for future rent credits.  Though City officials say this agreement is short-term, it concerns ReWild advocates, who do not foresee that shoreline being suitable for camping.

For the first time in decades, the community has a chance to help determine how these public lands in Mission Bay are used. These lands belong to us and we encourage STAY COOL advocates to join in the planning for Mission Bay North, and support design elements that anticipate climate change. For more background, see

Our next step is to meet with San Diego City Council members and their staff. Contact Linda to learn more or get involved.

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Resource consumption at SAN is enormous, but so are potential savings.

It’s not easy visiting behind-the-scenes at a major airport – security protocols, you know – but a dozen STAY COOL members got to do it this Spring, guided by Paula Morreale and Katie Altobello, Associate Environmental Specialists at San Diego International Airport, after a warm welcome from Brendon Reed, Director of Planning & Environmental Affairs for the airport authority.

We met in the Innovation room, where we got a glimpse of some fascinating ideas for the future, including sleep cubicles in the terminals.

Next up was Terminal 2, the first airport terminal in the world to receive LEED Platinum certification, the highest available, and where SAN staff continue to find ways to make the facility even more sustainable.

For example, low-flow fixtures save four million gallons of water annually; capturing rainfall from the new parking plaza and using it in the cooling system saves another two million gallons of potable water a year (and keeps the runoff out of the Bay). They even manage to get thousands of gallons of clean water each year by recovering the condensate from air conditioners on passenger boarding bridges.

The airport’s solar array generates 5.5 megawatts, of clean, renewable energy.

Other smart improvements at the terminal include drought-tolerant landscaping, lots of natural light in the interior, a reflective roof, energy-efficient lighting and equipment, and efficient and clean power units at the gates so parked aircraft aren’t running their dirtier power for air conditioning and lighting.

The airport also cuts down on food waste by recovering and donating unused edibles (54K pounds in 2017) and composting the rest (365 tons in 2017). Special collection bins at security allow passengers to empty containers and reuse them once through screening.

SAN supports greenhouse gas reduction with incentives to rideshare companies for hybrids, alternative fuels and carpools, and with “The Good Traveler,” a program that sells third-party approved carbon offsets to passengers.

Our last stop was an expanse of scrubby grasses ringed by a tall steel fence. Here among an array of support facilities and under the roar of jets lies one of the most productive nesting colonies for the endangered California Least Tern, carefully nurtured by SAN staff.

Finally, we heard how the Environmental Affairs is tasked with figuring out how the airport can continue operating in the face of a changing climate. The San Diego Airport Climate Resilience Plan features strategies to manage storm water, and protect against rising seas. Meanwhile, a redesign of Terminal 1 will incorporate major sustainable design features – perhaps a future behind-the-scenes tour for STAY COOL members.

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Good News – we can decarbonize the economy – including the transportation sector – sooner than we thought, at a net savings!

By John Atcheson, STAY COOL for Grandkids Advisory Council Member

One of the most remarkable revolutions in clean energy is how rapidly the price of battery storage has plummeted, and how much better batteries are performing. This means that electric vehicles (EVs) will soon have a lower first cost than internal combustion engines (ICE) here in the US. They already have far lower fuel and maintenance costs. In Europe – which taxes fossil fuels at a relatively high rate – EVs are already cheaper on a life cycle basis than ICE cars, and in three years they will be here in the US.

As battery costs fall, the range of EVs goes up, and 500 miles per charge will be affordable soon.  At the same time, charging times are going down, and next generation batteries could lower them to five minutes or so.  According to Bloomberg NEF, electric cars will have about a quarter of the global market by 2030, and nearly half by 2040, and that’s without a carbon price or cap.  Given the drop in battery prices and the improvements in capacity, either policy would make the transition happen faster and save us all a lot of money.

But the revolution in battery storage will not just make ICE cars obsolete; it’s already making fossil fuel power plants obsolete.  New renewable energy capacity is already cheaper than building new fossil fuel power plants, and in some markets it’s cheaper to shut down existing fossil fuel power plants and replace them with wind or solar; as prices drop, that will be the case for more and more markets, and at that point, switching to clean energy generation will be even more of a no-brainer, allowing us to decarbonize the electricity sector at a net savings.  The chart below shows how rapidly costs have come down. And according to BNEF, prices will continue to drop, falling from $176 per kilowatt hour in 2018 to $87 per kWh in 2025, and just $62 per kWh in 2030.  

Volume weighted average price is simply the average price – in this case of battery packs – weighted by volume of sales. 

Obviously, putting a price on carbon would make the transition to clean energy happen even faster, but the point is, anyone who tells you we don’t have the technology to cut greenhouse gasses or who tries to tell you we can’t afford it, is … well … full of hot air.

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A TALE OF TWO QUOTES: the contest between hope and despair at the 2019 San Diego Climate Summit

By John Atcheson, STAY COOL for Grandkids Advisory Council Member

While attending the 2019 San Diego Climate Summit at UCSD with fellow members of Stay Cool for Grandkids, I was reminded of two quotes. The first was by sixteen-year old Greta Thurnberg, from a speech given at the Davos Economic Forum. In her conclusion, she said:

Adults keep saying: “We owe it to the young people to give them hope.” But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.

This came to mind because in the opening remarks and throughout the conference, folks were pushing the need for and the importance of hope and optimism, all the while reporting on the increasingly grim reality of the consequences of climate change in San Diego.

You know the litany. Floods, droughts, seal-level rise, climate refugees, wildfires, water shortages, species extinctions, massive die-offs, encroaching tropical diseases, ocean acidification, and epic heat waves (although coastal San Diego may be spared the worst of these. Not so the interior of the county).

And for the most part, the presentations were saying the timetable for these catastrophes was shorter than previously thought. How could one muster hope or optimism in the face of these grim forecasts, I wondered?

Yet by the end, another quote came to mind, this one by Paul Hawkins. Here’s what he said:

When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand the data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world.

Just so with the panels and panelists at the San Diego Climate Summit. They would present their findings – all too often grim projections implying crises that had become more imminent than previously thought – and then the moderators would ask each panelist to try to come up with one word that encapsulated their feelings about what they were saying and hearing.

What I heard astounded me. The words the presenters came up with were things like action, excitement, engagement, energy, and yes, hope.

What I saw before me were men and women who knew the grim future we were fashioning with our outdated technologies, who knew that some measure of ecological destruction was baked into the system, who knew – in fact – that we were boxing ourselves and our children and their children into some very scary stuff, but who nevertheless had hope. They were too busy trying to understand the problem and fashion solutions to be pessimistic.

San Diego Climate Summit on March 25, 2019

And as I listened, I realized that the future viability of humankind will not be secured by investments in renewable energy; it will require harnessing a much older form of energy – the energy of the human spirit; the energy that has carried us across continents and through the ages in what amounts to a blink in geologic time.

But in the future, we will have to leaven that energy with wisdom. We will have to realize that the Earth is not simply a rock circling the sun – it is a precisely engineered habitat, unique in our solar system – if not the galaxy –and fashioned by the twin forces of time and chance to yield a world that is perfectly balanced, yet exquisitely sensitive to the increasingly heavy hand of humanity. It is not merely the only home we will ever have, it is a miracle; it is not simply worthy of protection, it is worthy of reverence.

Perhaps the energy and optimism I saw at the Conference is the bough wave of a greater awareness about our place in the cosmos. Perhaps the annoying noise of our day-to-day political follies, our deep divides, our presumed privileges, our ignorant biases, and our petty hatreds can be swept aside by the growing awareness that we are all on the same celestial ship, we’re in danger of foundering, and only we – acting together – can salvage it.

We will have to build a new cultural, economic, and political framework if we are to harness this older primal energy. We will have to banish ignorance, superstition, and blind convictions. But the future has always been about creating new capacities and shedding old ones. In every challenge there is an opportunity, and our progeny will inherit that opportunity as well as the burden of a changing climate.

We too have an opportunity. We can’t eliminate the burden we’re passing on, but we can minimize it, and we can help lay the groundwork for the wisdom and strength they will need to cope with what we are leaving them.

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Our next STAY COOL member event: “Protecting coral reef and intertidal zone marine communities for future generations”

Our next STAY COOL member event will be held on Wednesday, April 17, 2019, 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm at the Engel Home: 701 Hoska Drive, Del Mar CA 92014.

Dr. Jennifer Smith, an Associate Professor in the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at UCSD-Scripps Institution of Oceanography, will be STAY COOL’s next guest speaker.  Please join us on Wednesday April 17 to learn about how researchers are studying and using research to protect coral reef and intertidal zone marine communities for future generations.

Dr. Smith is recognized world-wide for her research on coral reef and shoreline tide pool ecosystems.  Her laboratory focuses on understanding how humans impact marine ecosystems and developing strategies for saving these ecosystems for future generations.  In addition to her extensive research on coral reefs around the world, Jennifer was recently awarded a grant from the California Ocean Protection Council to create 3D models of the intertidal zones off the California coast. The data obtained will be used to project how sea level rise, ocean warming and acidification and other consequences of climate change will affect these unique ecosystems. 

Light appetizers will be provided, along with soft drinks and wine. The event begins with networking and our guest speaker will begin her presentation at 6 pm with time for Q&A afterwards. To RSVP for this event, please email

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A look back at 2018 as we move into 2019

Last year was both challenging and exciting for STAY COOL. In early 2018 we partnered with San Diego Audubon Society (SDAS), which now serves as our fiscal sponsor. We thank SDAS for their ongoing support and partnership as we head into 2019. You may also recall that STAY COOL transitioned into a volunteer-managed organization at the end of 2017. As a result, our Advisory Council members have stepped up to take on more leadership and responsibility to carry out the STAY COOL mission.

In 2018, we said goodbye to Marty Eberhardt, one of our founding members, but at the same time we welcomed Linda Pratt to our Advisory Council team.  Linda brings a wealth of knowledge about climate policies. For more than 30 years she built a successful career focused on community-based environmental protection, serving as the director of regional environmental programs for the City and County of San Diego, and most recently as the managing director of a statewide nonprofit organization, Green Cities California.

Our newest Advisory Council member is Tracy Delaney, PhD, RD, who is the founding director of the Public Health Alliance of Southern California – a regional coalition of nine local health departments whose members have statutory responsibility for the health of 60% of California’s population. Her work advances population health and equity through multi-sector initiatives addressing policy, systems and environmental change.

STAY COOL membership remains around 250, with many members playing important roles in other climate change action groups in our community.  

We also have a growing audience of Facebook followers. In addition, Advisor Dennis Griffin started his “DIY Climate Action” group on Facebook with practical advice on how you can be climate-smart at home and in your daily life.

Under the leadership of Sue Randerson, Laura Schumacher (both pictured) and David Engel, we brought our Ocean Climate Science education program to more than 170 new students at Standley Middle School in University City. During two days of lessons to five classes, Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) grad students partnered with STAY COOL elders to explain how adding CO2 to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels is making oceans warmer and more acidic.  This year, STAY COOL continues to offer our youth Ocean Climate Science program, targeting middle schools and 6th grade class levels.

We have continued to hold membership events throughout the year.  For example, in June, we heard from Dr. Mark Merrifield who is the first director of the Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation (CCCIA) at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  Another popular membership event was a guided walk through the Silverwood Wildlife Sanctuary, a 785-acre open space preserve near Lakeside owned and maintained by San Diego Audubon.   

In November we honored our newest Grandkids’ Climate Defender and had the pleasure of hearing from Dr. “Ram” Ramanathan. Also, in attendance was Dr Ram’s wife Giri and grandson Ayan. Ram’s message was clear and direct – we all must do everything we can to prevent the worst from happening to our children and grandkids, and indeed to all lifeforms.  We agree that more effort must now be spent on adaptation strategies, and in planning how to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Grassroots, bottom-up efforts may be our last, best opportunity. STAY COOL is deeply appreciative to have heard Ram’s inspirational thoughts, along with his grandson Ayan who encouraged more recycling, bicycling and walking.

Dr. “Ram” Ramanathan honored as STAY COOL’s Climate Defender 2018, pictured here with Sarah Benson, Bob Leiter, David Engel and grandson Ayan.

We co-sponsored the Climate Summit that was organized by Climate Science Alliance and SIO in March.  Advisor Bob Leiter was later invited to serve on two peer review panels for California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, including the San Diego Region Report, a first-of-its kind detailed assessment of the climate change risks that threaten our own region.  Relying on key findings from the San Diego Region Report, we’re now working with other NGOs and academic institutions to help design an effective planning framework for coping with increased wildfire risks and other natural hazards in the context of integrated regional water resource planning. 

We have also been very active in climate policy and advocacy during 2018. We continued our efforts to encourage the County of San Diego to adopt an aggressive Climate Action Plan, including letters and testimony at the County Planning Commission and County Board of Supervisors.

In March, we joined with several other regional and statewide advocacy groups to testify before the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in support of ambitious 2035 Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction targets for the San Diego region.  Since that time, we have been meeting with SANDAG staff to promote specific climate-smart strategies for inclusion in the 2019 Regional Plan Update, as summarized in a letter we submitted to them in October:

In 2019, STAY COOL will be continuing its efforts on these fronts and continuing to advocate for Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) to reduce the carbon footprint of our electricity. We will also be pursuing some new ideas and collaborations with other like-mined groups in the areas of climate education and advocacy.  We want your active involvement to advance our mission of lessening the impact of climate change so that our children and grandchildren—and generations to come—can thrive.

Thank you for your continued support.

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Summary of “San Diego’s Climate Action Leadership: Leading the Way for Our Nation!”

Climate Education Partners (CEP) recently hosted an event, San Diego’s Climate Action Leadership: Leading the Way for Our Nation!, to highlight the ways in which our region is undertaking some of the most ambitious and innovative efforts nationwide to both reduce polluting emissions and become more resilient to the impacts of climate change. The event was meant to mark the end of CEP, a National Science Foundation-funded collaboration between the University of San Diego and Cal State San Marcos, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, The San Diego Foundation, Steve Alexander Group, and UC San Francisco. The collaboration was aimed at understanding the local impacts of climate change and how San Diegans – and the leaders that represent them – perceive these impacts and how to address them.

Climate Education Partners used their research findings from local climate scientists, social psychologists, interviews with local “key influential” leaders, and public opinion surveys, to develop educational materials, communications strategies, and options for advancing local solutions to climate change so that the region’s leaders in government, business and the community could make informed decisions about the future.

The event featured elected and other officials from federal, state and local governments that have been engaged in policy and planing related to climate change, including:

April Boling, Board Chair of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority
Port Commissioner Rafael Castellanos, Chairman of the Board at Port of San Diego
Assemblymember Todd Gloria, State of California’s 78th Assembly District
Kim Kawada, Chief Deputy Executive Director at SANDAG
Congressman Scott Peters, California’s 52nd District
Councilmember Cori Schumacher, Carlsbad City Council

“Collaborative, innovative, dynamic, prepared, concerned and eager to lead” were the answers given by the panelists when asked how they were feeling about the current state of climate action in the region. The program also featured an overview of Climate Education Partners’ new community toolbox, insights from polling data findings, and a quick share on what the CEP members are doing next.

Dr. Emily Young, Executive Director at the University of San Diego’s Nonprofit Institute, noted that CEP has laid the foundation for the Institute to launch a new Environment Leadership Hub, to build the next generation of strong leaders and organizations working across sectors, to protect our environment as part of sustaining our economic prosperity and quality of life.


This article was contributed to the STAY COOL blog by the University of San Diego’s Nonprofit Institute.

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